Breakwater Releases New EP

Breakwater, Severn’s a cappella group, has just released a new EP titled “Breathe”. The EP features 3 tracks and can now be found on all major streaming services.
The 3 tracks on “Breathe” are “Dandelions,” originally performed by Ruth B; “Wrecking Ball,” originally performed by Miley Cyrus; and “Alive,” originally performed by Sia. Katie Powell ’23 is the soloist on “Dandelions,” Maggie Cahouet ’23 on “Wrecking Ball” and Sophia Amplo ’23 for “Alive.” The arrangements for all 3 tracks were done by Rob Redei, Co-Director of Breakwater and Severn’s Upper School Arts Chair.

All of the tracks for “Breathe” were recorded at Severn School in one weekend this past spring. About 15 members of Breakwater contributed to this new EP, including the soloists.

Paisley Pentecost '25, a member of Breakwater, was part of the recording process, which took about 6 months total, including all of the preparation. "I am beyond excited to share "Breathe" with the world," she said. "I feel so lucky that Severn allows us to showcase our talents in such a cool way."

The recording process differs greatly from the group’s usual specialty – performing live – and was led by Breakwater Co-Directors Rob Redei and Kirsten Brandler. “I love the recording process because the students learn so much about their vocal capabilities,” said Brandler. “They learn new ways to dig into the songs because it’s an entirely different experience than performing live.”

Every singer was tracked individually during the process – the group never sings together – and then the individual tracks are layered together in post-production. When each student arrived for their individual recording session, they would hear a digital piano version of the song and a click track through headphones and then would follow along with that to sing their select portions.

Brandler and Redei coached each singer through the process, stressing the importance of tapping into the emotion of the recorded performance. “We stress to them that yes, there are some things that can be edited later, but emotion is not one of them,” said Brandler. “There is no button for that, so we focus on singing it with energy!”

Members of Breakwater worked together on the final song selection for “Breathe.” They considered which tracks would translate best to a recording, recognizing that songs with more intricate or complex things happening in the background can be more interesting in a recording. “You want songs that the recording medium showcases in a way that a live performance can’t always do,” said Brandler. “Every time you listen to these tracks, you can hear something new.”

Students also selected the title of the album and the cover art.

Jill Clark of Jill Clark Productions was the Sound Engineer for the recording sessions, and Angela Ugolini of Aurum Productions and Eric Scholz of Eric Scholz Productions handled post-production.

This is the second recording release for the award-winning vocal group. Breakwater plans to release a new EP annually.

Breakwater’s first EP, “Clarity,” was released in October 2022, and was nominated for a CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards) Award for Best Scholastic Debut Album in 2022 – a category that includes collegiate groups as well as high school. “Clarity” was the runner-up. “Breathe” has been submitted to CARA again, as well as for the Best of High School A Cappella (BOHSA) compilation album.

Breakwater’s latest success occurred in February, when the vocal group took the top prize at the Sing Strong A Cappella Festival in New York. Sophia Amplo ’23 earned the Best Soloist Award for her performance of "Alive."

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